Embracing Suffering – Luke 9: 43-45 – Saturday, 25th week in ordinary time
It’s tough to keep your cool when you have to get you message across twice. Today’s passage has Jesus communicating the truth of his passion and death to his disciples who seem to find this hard to swallow. Jesus has already predicted his passion in Luke 9:21 -22 and that itself came as a shock to the twelve. It seemed like this message needed to sink in before Jesus leaves Galilee and makes his way to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51)
Jesus has just descended from the mount of Transfiguration only to drive out a demon from a young boy. The opening lines of our Gospel text tells us that “all were amazed at all he was doing.” Perhaps it is this constant ‘high’ that keeps the apostles from accepting the ultimate reality; Jesus came to die for all.
Some scholars exonerate the disciple’s inability to understand and accept such suffering. They call this text of Luke the “suffering secret”. In the Gospel of Luke, it is only after the resurrection and the gift of insight that Jesus gives them (24:13-35 – road to Emmaus) that the disciples truly understand the meaning of the cross. It is the two men in white who remind the women at the tomb 24:5 of the words of Jesus; “ Remember how he told you, while still in Galilee that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners and be crucified and on the third day rise again.”
The inability of the disciples to accept the hard truth is a reflection of who we are too. The prosperity Gospel is appealing, not so the suffering of Christ on the cross. Yet looking at the signs of the time the cross beckons us to get out of our comfort zone and open our eyes to the reality of suffering. It is for this reason that a Church must have the crucifix displayed prominently and not the resurrected Christ as some opt to.
Perhaps the words of Christ are not always comforting and as in this case it disturbs the comfortable. We may have found comfort in texts that are not demanding on us but Christ calls us to accept tough love too. The cross may seem to many as a symbol of shame and the call to suffering may genuinely frighten us. But by suffering for us Jesus Christ is truly with us when we too suffer. He is the one person who truly can say to us, ‘I know what you are going through.’
What then is my take away from today’s Gospel?
Jesus told his disciples that the Son of Man was to be betrayed into human hands. Perhaps that reality is true today too. Each time Christ’s teachings are compromised we become part of the great betrayal of Jesus over and over again.
One of the reasons why Jesus was betrayed was the jealousy of those in the religious establishment of his time. The surging crowds that flocked to Jesus meant a diminishing congregation for themselves.
Jesus has great empathy for us when we are betrayed because he was betrayed too. Am I in the habit of dragging people down or do I raise and build those around me? Am I in the business of making crosses for people to be crucified on?
The disciples were not prepared for the suffering and death of Jesus even though he made it clear to them on three occasions. What about today? Am I ready to experience suffering when it comes my way? Everything requires preparation, am I prepared to drink the cup of suffering when it comes my way?
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